Meditation: Lighting and Colour Perception

in Current, Resources by susan

Meditation: Lighting and Colour Perception

We often get a lot of questions about fabric colours from customers. It’s time for an article about this!

The past several years have seen municipalities, retailers, and many homes switch over to LED lighting, replacing fluorescent and incandescent lights. This change has significantly decreased energy use (estimated 75% less). LED lights also last much longer than incandescent lights (estimated 25 times longer) (source: US Department of Energy).

SHOULD companies and consumers be worried about what products look like under the newer LED lighting?

Yes and no.

Big retailers use lighting and colour to convey and intended mood and highlight products, but which may not be appropriate in your setting. Red could look good in the store, but look more like orange in your home.

Early LED technology also produced a warm but dull light that affected consumer perceptions of colour and presentation. Gradually LED light is starting to develop and be able to imitate other types of light fairly accurately (like fluorescent tubes or halogen track lights).

Everything depends on your eyes when it comes to colour, however. Parts of your eye are stimulated by different wavelengths of light. Lighting can vary across sources, and fabrics that look similar in colour may actually have been made with different color inks, different fibers, and at different factories.

What does this all mean?

Colour perception can be objective, but this requires standards for lighting and colorants. We’re not there yet in the fabric industry. Coming soon. But by the time it arrives, everything up until now will be outdated. Colour consistency is an extremely difficult goal to achieve.

There’s also a big difference between what you see onscreen and what you see in real life. One is emitted light, and the other is reflected light.

Think about the tricks our eyes play on us when we put one colour next to another. One colour can make another look darker, lighter, or even take on some of its colour.

In dim light, for example, our dark navy cushions look almost black. Yet in bright daylight? Dark blue.

How do we handle this?

For product photography, we try to set up lighting that is consistent, using specialized equipment for to calibrate our monitors, adjust for colour correction, to try to give you the most accurate photos we can. But that’s really challenging, since your computer display monitor would have to be precisely calibrated to the same standards we use. And once you receiver your purchase, it would have to be viewed in that same light. Unlikely!

What would we suggest?

Buy your meditation cushion, support pillow and zabuton mat at the same time if you want them to match. Don’t expect colours to match what you see online. They shouldn’t be dramatically different, but we hope we’ve explained some of the technical challenges we all face with colour perception!

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